CTIA Outlines Mobile Porn Rating System

Gretchen Gallen
WASHINGTON, D.C. – As adult entertainment continues to gain ground in the mobile content sector, mobile providers may soon be facing a similar indecency battle with the Federal Communications Commission to that of the broadcast industry unless rules and regulations are set in place, says the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association.

In response to the incremental growth of available adult content via mobile devices and phones, the CTIA is proposing a rating and filtering process for explicit content that would go into effect by the end of 2005 and is being jointly developed by the Recording Industry Association of America, the Entertainment Software Ratings Board for games and the Motion Picture Association.

The proposed system would effectively take wireless carriers out of the hot seat in terms of exposing underage cellular users to explicit content, and instead would enable them to more freely provide users with adult content, ring tones and voice tones without fear of reprisal from organizations like the FCC.

According to a CTIA statement, the ratings system would identify all content deemed inappropriate for children 18 years and younger, giving carriers the flexibility of being able to control the content they offer consumers, while at the same time protecting the interests of children and parents.

The rating system would apply to all content provided by U.S. carriers, which is fast becoming a goldmine for companies like Playboy, Hustler, Wicked Entertainment and Jenna Jameson, among many others.

Similar to a rating system proposed in the U.K for cellphone carriers, the system would also rate content by category, much like the rating system given to movie releases. The system would also apply to music.

Many wireless providers are backing the proposed regulations in part because it will enable them to more easily capitalize on revenue from adult content, which has only just begun to hit the market and promises to render billions of dollars in yearly revenue over the next five years, according to mobile analysts.

But until rules and regulations are set firmly in place, wireless providers are cautious not to fall too closely under the FCC's radar.

"As you watch the wireless industry target its marketing efforts more toward families, the industry realizes that it has to reconcile messages that say young people should have cellphones with messages that exploit the interest of some users for adult content on mobile devices," Jupiter Research analyst Joe Laszlo said.